There is a unique charm to playoff hockey, one that no other sports' tournament can match. The NFL playoffs are too short for true hatred to build between opponents. MLB playoff games have an added element of tension, but don't bring a corresponding increase in intensity. And the NBA playoffs... well, let's just leave it at that. The NCAA Tournament inspires more of a frenzy among the populace as a whole, but again, the series are far too short for real organic animosity to build up. And most of all, in each of the above sports, the burden of rising intensity is on the fans. Fans get really excited about the playoffs, but the fundamental nature of the games don't really change. Playoff hockey is different. In every respect, playoff hockey is a different beast from its regular season counterpart. It is faster, more violent, and yet more disciplined. Players deliberately alter their style to adjust to a new set of rules and circumstances. Seemingly endless overtimes add a regular marathon element lacking in other sports, and every aspect of the game becomes more tense and measured. And because every series is best of seven, you get the added pleasure of seeing extended narratives emerge. You also get that element of hatred that develops between teams, which just doesn't happen in other sports in quite the same way. And all of it is in the name of the Stanley Cup, the only trophy in sports worth winning. Sure, it's great to say that you're the World Series Champion or the Super Bowl Champion, but no one cares about the Commissioner's Trophy or the Lombardi Trophy. Everyone cares about the Stanley Cup.
Clearly I am tired and don't want to blog at length or coherently today, so I'll leave you with that. Besides, I'm short on time anyway. The Pens are coming on soon.